30 April 2023


  • This edition an e-book from Amazon on Kindle 
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09JP2WJSH
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin eBooks (29 March 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 365 pages

Synopsis  (Amazon) 

I was dreading the Cunningham family reunion even before the first murder.

Before the storm stranded us at the mountain resort, snow and bodies piling up.

The thing is, us Cunninghams don’t really get along. We’ve only got one thing in common: we’ve all killed someone.

My brother
My step-sister
My wife
My father
My mother
My sister-in-law
My uncle
My stepfather
My aunt

My Take

Ern (Ernest) Cunningham has done the unforgiveable in most families- he dobbed his brother Michael in, gave evidence at his murder trial, and sent his brother to jail. Michael, for an unknown reason, got a surprisingly light sentence, and now three years later is being released.

The setting is a remote resort in the Victorian Alps, and by the time Michael and Ern's estranged wife Erin turn up (the last to arrive), there is already a body, and a storm is about to break. The police have arrived in the form of one officer who appears to be a detective but no-one is sure how he was notified that a murder had already happened. Michael and Erin arrive in a large truck containing something that Michael wants Ern to see.

Ern's Aunt Katherine has organised this reunion in the remotest place she can find. But what is the purpose? To celebrate Michael's release, or is there something else?

In real life Ern writes how-to e-books on different genres for budding authors. EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY.. is narrated by Ern, and at times he addresses the readers, rather quirkily, telling us what to look out for, and what is coming.

An odd sense of humour shows itself from time to time, and there are references to authors like Agatha Christie, just to remind us that above all else this is a murder mystery. There are plenty of murders and plenty of mystery.

My rating: 4.4

About the Author
Benjamin Stevenson is an award-winning stand-up comedian and author. He has sold out shows from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Off-stage, Benjamin has worked for publishing houses and literary agencies in Australia and the USA. Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone will be published in twenty-four territories around the world, and will soon be adapted into a major HBO TV series. 

This is his third novel.

His first novel, Greenlight, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction, and his second novel, Either Side of Midnight, was shortlisted for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Original Paperback.

Review: THE LAST REMAINS, Elly Griffiths

  • this edition first published by Quercus UK 2023
  • supplied by my local library
  • ISBN 978-1-52940-973-4
  • 357 pages
  • Ruth Galloway #15 

Synopsis (publisher

When builders renovating a café in King’s Lynn find a human skeleton behind a wall, they call for DCI Harry Nelson and Dr Ruth Galloway, Head of Archaeology at the nearby University of North Norfolk. Ruth is preoccupied with the threatened closure of her department and by her ever-complicated relationship with Nelson. However, she agrees to look at the case.

Ruth sees at once that the bones are modern. They are identified as the remains of Emily Pickering, a young archaeology student who went missing in the 1990s. Emily attended a course run by her Cambridge tutor. Suspicion falls on him and also on another course member – Ruth’s friend Cathbad, who is still frail following his near death from Covid.

As they investigate, Nelson and his team uncover a tangled web of relationships within the student group and the adults leading them. What was the link between the group and the King’s Lynn café where Emily’s bones were found?

Then, just when the team seem to be making progress, Cathbad disappears. Was it guilt that led him to flee?

The trail leads Ruth and Nelson to the Neolithic flint mines in Grimes Graves which are as spooky as their name. The race is on, first to find Cathbad and then to exonerate him, but will Ruth and Nelson uncover the truth in time to save their friend?

My Take

If you have missed the Ruth Galloway series, then you've missed a treat. The bad news is that this is #15. And I really think you get the most out of them by reading them in order. The characters generally have a shared history and certainly there are chronological developments.

However if you are new to the series, and determined to go on, then look to the back of the book where there is a Who's Who of the characters which will fill in some of the background for you, but not the events they've all shared.

For me, this series has become like catching up with old friends. So when Cathbad goes missing I thought the worst. Like many of us Cathbad survived a bout of Covid, although he spent time on a ventilator and his became a near-death experience. I like the way the author establishes relevant settings.

Another touch too - post Covid University students are looking for more "relevant" courses, and not everyone sees archaeology as relevant. So Ruth Galloway's department at the University of North Norfolk is under pressure to go with the times.

Of special relevance to me - when I was on my travels of the UK, nearly 50 years ago, I went to the main setting of this novel, Grime's Graves, and somewhere here I have piece of flint that I illegally souvenired there.

I loved this novel. I hope you do too.

My rating: 5.0

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26 April 2023

Review: JUST LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS, Claire Douglas

  • This edition supplied as an e-book through Libby by my local library
  • Published: 20th October 2020
  • ISBN: 9781405943383
  • 400 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

The story of how jealousy, lies and betrayal can build a family before destroying it, from Sunday Times bestseller Claire Douglas


Una Richardson is devastated after the death of her mother. Hoping for a fresh start, she responds to an advertisement and steps into the rich, comforting world of elderly Mrs Elspeth McKenzie. But Elspeth's home is not as safe as it seems. Kathryn, her cold and bitter daughter, resents Una's presence. More disturbing is the evidence suggesting two girls lived here before. What happened to them? Why will the McKenzies not talk about them? As the walls close in around her, Una fears she'll end up just like the other girls. 

My Take

This is the story of 3 girls who have worked as a companion to Mrs Elspeth McKenzie. Elspeth is old, a bit frail, but mainly pining for her daughter who disappeared 30 years before. Her second daughter Kathryn is adopted and feels she may be overlooked in her mother's will. She sees all of the companions as gold-diggers. Her mother chooses them because of their resemblance to her lost daughter Viola.

In Part One, we see much of the narration through the point of view first of all of Una, and then finally Kathryn. The house is called The Cuckoo's Nest, which seems to have unfortunate connotations particularly in Kathryn's case. From various people Una learns about the two girls who preceded her, Mathilde and Jemima, to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance.

And then Una is gone and in Part Two she is succeeded by Willow, and the search for what happened to Una is on. The police become more seriously involved and the identity of who "dealt" with Una becomes clear.

An enthralling mystery. Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.6

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23 April 2023

Review: THE SEVENTH LINK, Margaret Mayhew

  • This edition the fourth of 4 e-books that came on Kindle (Amazon) as a set
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09YDK88MJ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe Books crime thrillers and cosy mystery (April 19, 2022)
  • Originally published 2012
  • 139 pages




The Colonel’s old friend Geoffrey Cheetham invites him to the village of Buckby for the weekend, to coincide with an RAF reunion event.

After depositing an outraged Thursday at the Cat Heaven cattery, the Colonel drives up to stay at the Cheethams’ rambling B&B.

The guests include a Lancaster bomber crew, reunited for the first time. But everything is not as harmonious as it seems.

Then someone is found drowned in the lake . . .

My Take

As I said in my previous review, as the reader you begin to wonder where the body is going to come from in this book. Well, I had the body picked out well into the book, but not the method or the motive.

The book is really a novella rather than a full length novel.

One of the themes of this book appears to be how the airmen in Bomber Command were treated by the government after the War, no medals, and not really given credit for saving Britain. The people of the village of Buckby want to remedy that in some way, but at least one of a Lancaster Bomber Crew that survived 30 operations feel that their praise is undeserved.

Again this is a murder mystery where the resolution is unexpected.

My rating: 4.3

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Review: DRY BONES, Margaret Mayhew

  •  This edition the third of 4 e-books that came on Kindle (Amazon) as a set
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09YDK88MJ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe Books crime thrillers and cosy mystery (April 19, 2022)
  • Originally published 2012

Synopsis (Amazon)

A friend of the Colonel’s wife writes him that ‘something horrible has happened.’ Cornelia Heathcote, whose wealthy husband is away on business, has discovered a body buried under the floor of her barn. First the Colonel must work out who the bones belong to. But that’s just the beginning of his problems. For this victim had many enemies in the wealthy village. Which of them wanted him dead? 

My Take

To my surprise I discovered that I had read this book before, possibly soon after it was published, although I hadn't read the two earlier ones. The author actually gives quite a bit of background in each book so it is possible to read each on its own.

It is possible that, knowing the "full story" of the series, I enjoyed this one a little more than I did originally.

This is the third body the  Colonel has been associated with in 3 books, and it is interesting that you spend your time trying to work out where the next body is going to come from. They are not conventional murder mysteries, because the murderer is not always "caught".

Identifying the body is relatively easy police work, particularly as the villagers manage to come up with a possible identity to be confirmed by dental records. And then there are any number of possibilities about who the killer might be, just about all the adult males in the village 4-5 years ago. It is the Colonel who finally works out who it was, and winkles out a death bed confession.

My rating: 4.3

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22 April 2023

Review: OUTBACK, Patricia Wolf

  • This edition made available by my local library as an e-book on Libby
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Embla Books (November 8, 2022) 
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 292 pages 
  • DS Walker Thriller Book 1

Synopsis (Amazon)


DS Lucas Walker is on leave in his hometown, Caloodie, taking care of his dying grandmother. When two young German backpackers, Berndt and Rita, vanish from the area, he finds himself unofficially on the case.

But why all the interest from the Federal Police when they have probably just ditched the heat and dust of the outback for the coast? Working in the organised crime unit has opened Walker's eyes to the growing drug trade in Australia's remote interior - and he becomes convinced there is more at play.

As the number of days since the couple's disappearance climbs, Walker is joined by Rita's older sister. A detective herself with Berlin CID, she has flown to Australia - desperate to find her sister.

Their search becomes ever more urgent as temperatures soar. Even if Walker does find the young couple, will it be too late?

This deeply atmospheric thriller is the gripping opening of a new crime series for fans of Cara Hunter and Chris Whitaker.

My Take

This made for interesting reading. It hits a topic, the disappearance and murder of backpackers, that has been raised in a number of novels, and also in true crime reporting. There are several narrators but the story is told largely in the third person, with glimpses of the thoughts of individual characters.

The coincidence of the young missing backpackers being German, and the fact that the author lives in Germany is an interesting one. I liked the character of the policewoman from Berlin who comes searching for her sister. It would be good to see her work with Lucas Walker in future novels. 

I was reminded also of the international tourist (a Belgian) who comes looking for her missing son in Garry Disher's DAY'S END, who just happens to be a forensic expert. 

The original interest of the Federal Police and the Department of Foreign Affairs in the disappearance of these two backpackers, just days after they have gone missing, is never really explained. (Or if it was, I missed it)

It is interesting also that the accounts by a number of crime fiction authors, including Chris Hammer, and Garry Disher, support the view of what Patricia Wolf is saying about Outback towns.

My Rating: 4.5

About the author

Patricia Wolf has been a journalist for more than 15 years, a regular contributor to titles including The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Independent and The Telegraph, among others. She grew up in outback Australia, in a mining town called Mount Isa in far north-west Queensland – eagle eyed readers will have spotted a small reference to it in her first book, OUTBACK. Patricia loves the rugged beauty, indigo sky and wide horizons of the outback, but left Australia after university to travel the world and became a journalist. She lives in Berlin, Germany, but the outback always calls her home. In 2019, just before the covid pandemic locked us all in, Patricia spent two months in northwest Queensland, taking a four-week road trip. As she drove and spent nights and days surrounded by the beauty and rugged harshness of the outback, DI Lucas Walker and his stories came to be.

20 April 2023

Review: SAD CYPRESS, Agatha Christie

  • this edition a large print one published by Harper Collins in 2013 and supplied by my local library
  • originally published in 1940
  • ISBN 978-1-61173-770-7
  • 318 pages

Trivia Quiz

Nice review to check

Synopsis (Christie.com)

An elderly stroke victim dies without having arranged a will. Beautiful young Elinor Carlisle stood serenely in the dock, accused of the murder of Mary Gerrard, her rival in love. The evidence was damning: only Elinor had the motive, the opportunity and the means to administer the fatal poison. Yet, inside the hostile courtroom, only one man still presumed Elinor was innocent until proven guilty: Hercule Poirot was all that stood between Elinor and the gallows. 

Come away, come away, death.,
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath!
i am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew
O prepare it;
My part of death no one so true;
Did share it    

My Take

As I am re-reading this novel for discussion with my U3A Agatha Christie Reading Group, I have decided to create a list of questions for our session. I think we will have plenty to talk about. 

My earlier review is here.

If you, blog reader, decide to answer any of my questions, please feel free to leave your responses as a comment.

Discussion Questions (not listed in any particular order)

  • In what major ways does this novel differ from other Hercule Poirot ones? 
  • How does the structure of this book differ from most other Christie novels?
  • Where does the title come from? What does it mean? Does it work as a title?
  • There are several mysteries in Sad Cypress. How many can you list?
  • What is the buried scandal in this novel? What clues are we given about it?
  • How does Agatha Christie raise the issue of euthanasia? Do you think it is seriously done?
  • Whom did you suspect of the murder(s)?
  • Did Elinor ever love Roddy? Why did she break their engagement off?
  • This novel was published in 1940. What period do you think it was set in? Why?
  • Who committed the murder(s) and why?
  • What is the irony in Mary making a will?
  • What do you think of Elinor's state of mind?
  • The first courtroom drama for Poirot, Sad Cypress was written in the build up to the Second World War, a particularly prolific period for Agatha Christie and her little Belgian. It is written in three parts – the defendant’s account, the build-up to the murder, and Poirot’s investigation. Reflecting upon the piece after publication, Christie decided it would have been better without the character of Poirot. Do you agree
  • Apart from the title, there are other literary references in the novel. Which ones did you pick?
  • How does Christie demonstrate her knowledge of poisons (and how they work)
  • There is at least one reference in the novel that the "clean up brigade" who are sanitising the Christie books will have earmarked for removal. What did you pick up?
  • What about the ideas that Mary Gerrard had been "educated above her station". Do you think Christie was serious in suggesting that? Who talks about the dangers of education?
  • Hercule Poirot is amazed by the fact that everyone he talks to tells him lies. Some are just small lies and he can understand why the person has lied. But then he comes across a lie that seems unnecessary. The other thing that prompts his involvement is that he becomes convinced that the truth lies not in what he knows about Elinor Carlisle, but in what he does not know about Mary Gerrard? What lies is he talking about?
  • What is a curate's egg? (I've seen this used in reference to this novel)
  • Which of the characters do you like best? least? Why?
  • How does Poirot deliver justice?
  • Does the novel have a happy ending?
  • How much out of 5 do you give it?
  • Some commentators say that this is a much under-appreciated novel. Do you agree?

My rating: 4.5 

My list of Agatha Christie novels.

18 April 2023

Review: THE MURDER RULE, Dervla McTiernan

Synopsis (publisher)

Provocative blurb on back cover

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

My Take
I read this for the first time only last year, and here I am re-reading it for discussion with my U3A crime fiction discussion group.
I have decided to compile my review as a list of discussion question. 
  • The Prologue - how does Hannah get entry into the Innocence Project? What does this show you about her?
  • Why does McTiernan set the novel in the USA? Can you imagine it could have been set anywhere else?
  • Why does Hannah want to be on the Innocence Project?
  • There are 2 narrations: Hannah's and Laura's diary. Are both reliable?
  • Why did Laura write her diary?
  • What qualities does Professor Parekh see in Hannah?
  • What do we know about Hannah? About her mother?
  • What is the murder rule? Does it exist outside USA? Does Australian law include elements of it?
  • Are there Australian equivalents of the Innocence Project?
  • How authentic does the plot feel? Are all the elements credible?
  • Which of the characters do you like/dislike? Why?
    Hannah, Sean, Professor Parekh, Michael, Laura, Camila, Tom, Hazel
  • What did you think of the Pierce element of the plot? Why is it there?
  • What grade out of 5 would you give the novel?
  • This novel is set mainly in August and September of 2019. The author says she wrote it during the pandemic, but there is no mention of it in the novel. Does that matter?
  • Did you keep the cover blurb in mind as you read the novel?
  • Did any of the author commentators hit the spot with their pithy comment? Why are they there on the back cover? 
  • If you were telling a friend about this novel, what would you say?

My rating: 4.6

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Review: THREE SILENT THINGS, Margaret Mayhew

  • This edition the second of 4 e-books that came on Kindle (Amazon) as a set
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09YDK88MJ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe Books crime thrillers and cosy mystery (April 19, 2022)
  • Originally published 2008

Synopsis (Amazon)

The Colonel discovers the ageing acting legend Lois Delaney dead in her bath. Her eyes are wide with surprise, her mouth a little open. It appears to be suicide, yet she was looking forward to a grand comeback on the London stage. Why would she kill herself? Haunted by the look frozen on Lois’s face, the Colonel won’t rest till he uncovers the truth.

My Take

These be three silent things:
The falling snow
The hour before dawn
The mouth of one just dead.

The Colonel has been living in the Dorset village of Frog End for nearly a year, made some friends, and is taking part in village life. He is collecting money for a charity when he accidentally discovers  the body of an elderly actress who appears to have committed suicide, or at least that is what the police and the coroner believe.

But the Colonel is among a number who believe that Lois Delaney had too much to live for and that it is murder not suicide. While there is nothing to disprove the suicide theory the Colonel can't get away from the nagging thought of murder.

Another quick and fairly satisfying read. This novel was first published some 15 years ago.

My rating: 4.4

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15 April 2023

Review: QUEEN HIGH, C. J. Carey

  • this edition from my local library
  • published by Quercus Books UK 2022
  • ISBN 9-781529-412048
  • 414 pages
  • Sequel to WIDOWLAND published 2021 

Synopsis (publisher)


1955. Britain remains a Protectorate of Germany. The assassination of the Leader on British soil provoked violent retribution and intensified repression of British citizens, particularly women. Now, more than ever, the Protectorate is a place of surveillance and isolation – a land of spies.

The royal family has been usurped, and the widowed Queen Wallis reigns in their place. Yet some citizens hold out hope that Elizabeth may one day return.

Rose Ransom marvels that she’s even alive. A mere woman, her role in the Leader’s death has been miraculously overlooked. Her work now focuses on the outlawed subject of Poetry, a form of writing that transmits subversive meanings. Therefore all Poetry is banned and Rose is appointed a Poet Hunter.

President Eisenhower is to make a state visit to Britain and Rose is tasked with visiting Queen Wallis to brief her. She finds Wallis in a state of paranoia, desperate to return to her American homeland. She claims she has a secret document so explosive that it will blow the Protectorate apart – should she dare to reveal it.

My Take

Set in June 1955, two years after the Leader was assassinated. There is a lot to get your head around in this dystopian, feminist, pseudo-historical novel. Since the Battle of Britain, Britain has been a German Protectorate. Women outnumber men 6 to 1, and a caste system has been established where each woman is assigned a caste which determines her status and employment. 

For me this novel was a mixture of Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984. Life is carefully regulated, and citizens, especially women, live under a repressive regime.

But things seem to be changing. President Eisenhower is coming for a state visit and there is talk of a new Pact with the United States. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but at the same time it was a challenging read. 

My rating: 4.4

About the author
C. J. Carey is a novelist, journalist and broadcaster. She has worked at the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph and the BBC, among others. She also writes novels under the name Jane Thynne and lives in London. Widowland is the first novel she has written as C. J. Carey. QUEEN HIGH is her second novel.

10 April 2023

Review: ACT OF OBLIVION, Robert Harris

  • This edition provided by my local library
  • published by Penguin UK 2022
  • ISBN 978-1-52-915176-3
  • 458 pages

Synopsis (publisher

From what is it they flee?'

 He took a while to reply. By the time he spoke the men had gone inside. He said quietly, 'They killed the King.'

 1660, General Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe, father- and son-in-law, cross the Atlantic. They are on the run and wanted for the murder of Charles I. Under the provisions of the Act of Oblivion, they have been found guilty in absentia of high treason.

In London, Richard Nayler, secretary of the regicide committee of the Privy Council, is tasked with tracking down the fugitives. He'll stop at nothing until the two men are brought to justice. A reward of £100 hangs over their heads - for their capture, dead or alive.

ACT OF OBLIVION is an epic journey across continents, and a chase like no other. It is the thrilling new novel by Robert Harris.

My Take

Despite his assurances when he was offered the English throne, Charles II was never going to forgive those who had tried and beheaded his father. Mind you, Charles I had demonstrated that he could not be trusted and still believed he was God's anointed, so he and his captors had really come to an impasse, although there were those among them who hoped for a settlement.

I thought I knew my English history but have never looked at the Restoration in this amount of detail. This fictional re-creation is based around what happened to two men who escaped capture and punishment as regicides. I knew that Parliament bayed for the blood of those whose names were on the warrant of execution, but never how bloodthirsty and gruesome that retribution turned out to be. The novel primarily covers the 20 years after the Restoration when Whalley and Goffe were on the run.

The other thing that I never realised was how strong the belief was by Puritans and others that the Second Coming of Christ would happen in 1666, which they termed the year of the Devil, based on the prophecies of the book of Revelation. How the events of the Plague, the Great Fire of London, and the war with the Dutch must have confirmed those beliefs! 

The other thing that I had no concept of the impact of the Restoration on the colonies in North America. I thought for example, that the colony of New Haven had simply "failed", but the author shows how it was punished for not giving up the regicides.

The pictures drawn of Cromwell,  Charles II and his brother James, Duke of York, who eventually became James II, were also fascinating.

An excellent read.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read


7 April 2023

Review: OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE, Margaret Mayhew

  • This edition the first of 4 e-books that came on Kindle (Amazon) as a set
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09YDK88MJ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe Books crime thrillers and cosy mystery (April 19, 2022)

Synopsis (Amazon)

If you enjoy Stella Cameron, Faith Martin, Agatha Christie, Simon Brett, Frances Evesham, Jeanne M. Dams, Betty Rowlands or M.C. Beaton, then prepare to be hooked from the first page of this bestselling series.


BOOK 1: OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE, first published 1999

Meet the Colonel. He moves to a quiet country cottage in Dorset, which he visited with his late wife. He decides that the upcoming fete will be the start of his mission to fit into village life. But when Lady Swynford is found dead, it becomes clear that Frog End has a darker side. And as Inspector Squibb investigates the case, the Colonel finds himself more involved than he could possibly have imagined.

At the grand old age of 55, the Colonel was put out to grass by the British Army. In the same year, his beloved wife, Laura, died. He found himself facing a bleak and lonely future. One summer, years before, he and Laura visited a village in Dorset called Frog End, which had a spit-and-sawdust pub called the Dog and Duck. Laura had fallen in love with a stone cottage across the village green. Years later, after her death, the Colonel had revisited the same village alone and seen Laura’s dream cottage. Against his better judgement, he bought it.

The cottage was called Pond Cottage and the Colonel soon discovered that he had made a big mistake. The two-hundred-year-old building had deathwatch beetle, rising damp, a falling roof, rot and decay throughout. There was no heating and the wiring was a dangerous disgrace. There was no sign of any pond. But there were compensations: a view over the beautiful village green, clusters of other stone cottages, a Norman church built on Saxon foundations, a graveyard of ancient tombs leaning at perilous angles. And, of course, the Dog and Duck.

My Take

While there was a murder in this first novel, with an unlikely murderer, much space was given over to establishing the nature of the village, and setting up the central character, and his neighbours in the village. There are quite a few human interest strands and it really was a quick read.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976. She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire. 

I can see that she is quite a prolific author. There are 6 titles in the Village Mystery series and then a number of stand-alones, many of which are set in World War II

Review: NO CURE FOR LOVE, Peter Robinson

  • This edition published in 2015. 
  • originally published 1995
  • Published by Hodder & Stoughton
  • Foreword by Michael Connelly
  • ISBN 978-1-473-61093-4
  • 383 pages

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A British actress transplanted to Hollywood, Sarah Broughton plays cool, efficient homicide detective Anita O'Rourke in the hit network series "Good Cop, Bad Cop."

She seems to have it all.... a beach house in Pacific Palisades, all the peace and privacy she needs to forget her troubled past....then she starts receiving disturbing letters from someone who signs himself only as "M". Soon, she is plunged into a nightmare of twisted, obsessive love that threatens her sanity, her life and the lives of her friends. Detectives Arvo Hughes and Maria Hernandez from the LAPD Threat Management Unit must explore the lost years of Sarah's life in order to save her. But Sarah's memories of the long roller-coaster ride of drugs, sex and rock and roll are vague and blurred. When "M's" obsession escalates to murder, the two detectives find themselves in a race against time to save Sarah's life. 

My Take

A stand-alone by Robinson, written nearly 30 years ago, set not in England, but mainly in Hollywood, with a very complimentary foreword by Michael Connelly.

At first the fan letters seem just to be a bit over the top and Sarah does not take them very seriously, but the third has alarming verbal images, and comes at the same time as she discovers a dismembered body on the beach where she lives. Even so, Sarah is going home to England for Christmas ans is convinced that by the time she gets back the police will have found the murderer. 

The LAPD detectives are convinced the clue to the identity of the stalker lies in Sarah's unsavoury past, but even so his final identity in the last few pages comes as a twist to the plot.

My rating: 4.4

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3 April 2023

Review: DUMB WITNESS, Agatha Christie

  •  this edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0046RE5CW
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins; Masterpiece Ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • originally published 1937 AKA USA edition POIROT LOSES A CLIENT
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 337 pages
  • My original reviews, 2011, 2017

Synopsis (Amazon

An elderly spinster has been poisoned in her country home…

Everyone blamed Emily’s accident on a rubber ball left on the stairs by her frisky terrier. But the more she thought about her fall, the more convinced she became that one of her relatives was trying to kill her.

On April 17th she wrote her suspicions in a letter to Hercule Poirot. Mysteriously he didn’t receive the letter until June 28th… by which time Emily was already dead…

My Take

I am re-reading this for my U3A Agatha Christie Reading class. I read it on my Kindle because it enables me to make notes as I go, so I can come up with discussion questions. I have found that these questions help to bring the plot back to the people in the class.

So here are some of the questions I want to discuss:

  • This novel leaps straight into the fact that Emily Arundell has died. Did you know straight away who the narrator was? What did you base this on? Do you expect this narrator to be reliable?
  • What do you learn straight away about the Arundell family, and about Emily's character in particular? What does it mean to say the family were"service people"?
  • When is this novel set? Are there any clues?
  • Emily Arundell has not been well for a number of years. What causes her ill health? Why would various members of the family like to see her death?
  • What caused Emily to fall down the stairs?
  • When Emily wrote to Poirot she "crossed and recrossed the page". What do you envisage that to look like? Why did people do that?
  • We find out in Chapter 5 that Hastings is the narrator. How did he come up with the detail evident in the first 4 chapters (dialogue, thoughts etc)
  • Why did so much time elapse between the writing of the letter to Poirot and its final delivery?
  • Hastings can't see why Poirot wants to follow this up. What is Poirot's reasoning?
  • Bob the dog is made a real character. How does Christie do this?
  • Hastings challenges Poirot's decision to tell "white lies" in his search for information about what happened to Emily Arundell.
  • Do you think Emily meant to destroy her new will? Why?
  • What caused the "halo" around Miss Arundell's head at the seance?
  • If Emily had not made a new will, how would her estate have been distributed? If she hadn't told the family about the new will, would she have been murdered?
  • Who did you suspect of plotting the murder? Did you change your mind? How difficult was it to work out? Bear in mind the fact that Poirot said he had concluded that there could only be one person, but Hastings could not work it out.
  • What did you think of Poirot's account of what had happened? Why did he give Bella a copy of his conclusions? What he fear would happen if he didn't do this? Was justice done?
  • How does Agatha Christie demonstrate her own knowledge of poisons?
  • What happens to the dog Bob? Does he feature at all in later books?
  • If Bob could talk.... Would he have been able to say who murdered Emily?

My rating: 4.5

See my list of Agatha Christie novels

1 April 2023

Review: FLIGHT RISK, Michael McGuire

Synopsis (publisher

Disgraced former pilot Ted Anderson works for a top-secret government organisation set up to investigate terror-related incidents. Sent to Jakarta to find out as much as he can about the pilot of a vanished Garuda flight, he discovers a flight simulator in the pilot's apartment.

When the investigation turns sour, Ted escapes to New York as further disaster strikes.

Another plane disappears from the sky. Then another. Three planes and hundreds of passengers and crew, vanished, without a trace. Panic is widespread and the world is teetering on the brink.

Still no one has come forward to claim responsibility.

At an eerily deserted JFK airport trying to get a flight back home, Ted witnesses a suspicious exchange between an airport cleaner and a nonchalant airline pilot. He follows the pilot to his destination: a Ukraine International Airlines flight, due to leave in an hour.

All his instincts tell Ted that this is the next plane to go down. But what on earth can he do? Take the flight and face almost certain death? Or fly back home and wait for the news headlines?

He does the unthinkable and gets on the plane.

Astoundingly original and utterly gripping, Flight Risk is a white-knuckle ride of nonstop suspense - a high-octane thriller full of pure adrenaline, explosive action and jaw-dropping revelations

My Take

This novel is certainly a page turner.

It is one of the books chosen for the monthly book group that I belong to, mainly because the author is from Adelaide.

One of the greatest mysteries of aviation history happened on March 8, 2014. Malaysia Airlines MH370 went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane left its programmed flight path and headed south towards the Indian Ocean. Over the years Australian aviation authorities, among others, have spent a lot of time and energy on working out what happened to this plane, and finding its final resting place. There have been tv programmes about it. My recollection of that latest one I saw is that it is thought the pilot deliberately took the plane off course and eventually crashed it. The remains are supposedly somewhere off the West Australian coast. Bits and pieces have been found.

FLIGHT RISK reminded me of that event. And what if, instead of just one plane, there were four? And what if, in true Agatha Christie style, there was a mastermind behind it all? I won't say any more. I will let you discover the plot yourself.

One of the things McGuire makes you think about is how the pilot could get away with an event like this. Why wasn't he overwhelmed by other crew and passengers? Read the book to explore this scenario. Will you ever get on a plane again?

My rating: 4.5

About the author

Born in Glasgow in 1971, Michael McGuire moved to South Australia with his family at the age of 10.

Michael has worked as a journalist in Sydney and Adelaide for The Australian, The Sunday Mail and The Advertiser, with a couple of forays into the state and federal politics as an advisor.

Michael is married to Rachel and they have two children, Tom and Ruby. NEVER A TRUE WORD, his first novel, is a satire about politics and was published in March 2017 by Wakefield Press.


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